there was nothing she would have liked more than to be able to

do the same. So she went out begging, but at the end of a

whole day all she had was one small coin. She took it to the oilmerchant

to try to buy some oil. He told her that she could not

possibly buy anything with so little. But when he heard that she

wanted it to make an offering to Buddha, he took pity on her

and gave her the oil she wanted. She took it to the monastery,

where she lit a lamp. She placed it before Buddha, and made this

wish: "I have nothing to offer but this tiny lamp. But through

this offering, in the future may I be blessed with the lamp of

wisdom. May I free all beings from their darkness. May I purify

all their obscurations, and lead them to enlightenment."

That night the oil in all the other lamps went out. But the

beggar woman's lamp was still burning at dawn, when Buddha's

disciple Maudgalyayana came to collect all the lamps. When he

saw that one was still alight, full of oil and with a new wick,

he thought, "There's no reason why this lamp should still be

burning in the daytime," and he tried to blow it out. But it kept

on burning. He tried to snuff it out with his fingers, but it

stayed alight. He tried to smother it with his robe, but still it

burned on. The Buddha had been watching all along, and said,

"Maudgalyayana, do you want to put out that lamp? You cannot.

You could not even move it, let alone put it out. If you

were to pour the water from all the oceans over this lamp, it

still wouldn't go out. The water in all the rivers and lakes of the

world could not extinguish it. Why not? Because this lamp was

offered with devotion, and with purity of heart and mind. And

that motivation has made it of tremendous benefit." When

Buddha had said this, the beggar woman approached him, and

he made a prophecy that in the future she would become a

perfect buddha, called "Light of the Lamp."

So it is our motivation, good or bad, that determines the

fruit of our actions. Shantideva said:

Whatever joy there is in this world

All comes from desiring others to be happy,

And whatever suffering there is in this world

All comes from desiring myself to be happy. 16

Because the law of karma is inevitable and infallible, whenever

we harm others, we are directly harming ourselves, and

whenever we bring them happiness, we are bringing ourselves

future happiness. So the Dalai Lama says:

More magazines by this user
Similar magazines